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Dan Ochieng Paper - 1

Dan Ochieng
MCWP 50 / Ted Gideonse
Tues and Thurs 3:30 4:50 pm
Research Paper Draft 1
May 17, 2012
Marijuana Abuse by University Students in the US
Drug abuse is defined as the habitual use of drugs to change ones moods, emotions and/or
state of conscience (TheFreeDictionary). Marijuana or cannabis (as it is commonly referred to) is
a plant grown for its euphoric principles and its hallucinogenic effect. Currently, there is no
acceptable clinical usage (Mohler-Kuo, Lee and Wechsler 17) but it has been used to treat
glaucoma. Marijuana abuse can, therefore, be described as the illegal use of marijuana to alter
ones mood, emotional state or state of conscience. In modern societies, the use and abuse of
drugs creates a social paradox which includes the potential for good and bad outcomes. As a
positive impact of marijuana, patients suffering from severe forms of cancers get a bit of reprieve
from their anguish through controlled use of the drug. However, certifications of clinical uses are
still unavailable due to little known knowledge about the drug and its long-term effects. Perhaps
with increased research into the positive medical uses, patients can better enjoy the drug in a
controlled environment.

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Despite the ban on use and trade of marijuana within the United States, there has been a
surge in its use, particularly within colleges and universities. Marijuana abuse has mushroomed
into both a social menace for enforcing agencies and a steady social vile that is practiced with
little caution or care of legal restrictions on its use and trade. The trade in marijuana has grown
into a multi-million dollar industry globally; and this market seems to surpass social and
demographic boundaries. The upper age limit for marijuana abuse in the United States has been
found to shift upwards amongst 45-64 year old citizens (Gledhill-Hoyt, Lee and Strote). This
shift is consistent with the increased life exposure to the substance implying that addiction plays
a significant role in influencing and sustaining the use and abuse of marijuana.
Thus, this paper examines the causative agents for marijuana abuse in the United States with
a focus on the user group consisting of college and university students and assessing the effects
arising therein. Finally, the paper concludes by calling upon the collective effort of all members
of society-particularly the elite-in helping combat the incidence and spread of this vice at the
community level. This is because at a societal level members know each other at a relatively
personal level such that any marijuana peddler, user or grower is easily identifiable and can be
report to appropriate authority for further action.
Causes of marijuana abuse
Marijuana use has increased amongst the youngest age groups in the United States and,
especially, within the minority groups, such as the Hispanics and African-Americans. This also
has been found to represent a shift upwards in both the abuse and dependency on other drugs
(Gledhill-Hoyt , Lee and Strote). Many studies have provided positive correlation towards this
end but I would draw a cautious line on this conclusion, since the consumption of marijuana

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might cause problems in the consumption of other substances. My own prognosis would be
inclined towards the examination of this relationship based on the consideration that marijuana
and other cases of substance abuse arise significantly out of the underlying problems within a
subset of the particular individuals orientation. The personality characteristics of the individual
have been found to be attributable to marijuana use and abuse of other hardcore drugs, such as
cocaine and heroin (McElrath and Yvonne). I, however, take note of the fact that use of
marijuana may influence and alter decision-making patterns of the individual due to its psychotic
effects. Subsequently, such individuals become highly susceptible to using and abusing other
hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
In this regard it is useful to note that there are three broad groupings on marijuana users,
namely blunt users, joint users and mixed users (Mohler-Kuo, Lee and Wechsler). Each of these
groups displays particular patterns in both practice norms and avoidance norms. In other words,
they develop their own unique marijuana subcultures (due to the variations in meaning and
significance attributable to marijuana usage) that influence and sustain the use and abuse of
marijuana amongst the sample group, i.e., the university and college students. The marijuana
subculture is very strong within the student population usually taking the form of peer pressure.
In all these broad groupings, there are strong studies that have arrived to the conclusion that there
are low proportions of friends who are non-users rather than users.
Blunt users were found to have lowest proportions of friends who are not users themselves
owing to their high dependency on THC and nicotine, as well as their increased friction with law
enforcement agencies, such as the police and the school administrators (The Higher Education
Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention). Peer pressure factors
include encouragements, being physically present when users indulge in the process (whether

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through inhalation via smoking or mixing in edible products) and existent of a sibling who is a
The American society is arguably one that is constantly bombarded with a wide threshold of
information compared to other societies within the developed world. This has been contributory
to the positive and negative ends in the fight against drugs and substance abuse generally within
the United States. The role of activism has been found to influence the emergence of a marijuana
culture in states where the practice was barely existent if not totally inexistent (Wills). There has
been much political debate and an inclusion of public opinions in the matter towards calling for a
complete legalization of the drug use, culturing and trade as a response of combating other hard
core drugs, including heroin, cocaine and so on, in society. What has this ultimately led to? It has
contributed to a decline in the perceived harm of marijuana on users health as well as reduced
disapproval (at least in public) of its usage. For this reason, there has been increased introduction
to the use of marijuana paraphernalia in college parties and other social gatherings, such as sports
and cultural festivals as a leisure or recreational item.
Family factors have also contributed to the increased usage of marijuana by students. In the
United States there is an alarming increase in single-parent households that is associated to the
sustained high levels of separations and divorces. The challenges experienced in growing up
have contributed to the joining of marijuana subcultures by students from such backgrounds who
yearn for a sense of belonging. A high portion of students involved in a research study on the
prevalence of marijuana penetration in colleges found that serious family conflicts as a major
reinforcement behind their practice behavior (Levinthal). Students from backgrounds prone with
violence-be it amongst the parents or as against the children themselves-have been found to look
for an escape from these predicaments. More often than not these students resort to drugs and

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alcoholism. The availability and relatively low cost of acquiring marijuana makes it the most
attractive drug of choice for such teens.
Levinthal (2011) in this regard, also identified the absence of one parent member
significantly from the tender ages of 12 and below pushed the teens into marijuana use as they
progressively moved from high school into college and university.
The income level of the students is also found to be a significant factor for marijuana
indulgence amongst them. Students who spent more in excess of meeting essential expenditure
items like boarding, food and transport were found to be highly likely to use marijuana
(McElrath and Yvonne). A study conducted on undergraduate university students at Cork
University found out that seventy-five per cent of males who have taken marijuana, spend 3 or
more a week on items other than board and lodgings.
Fewer restrictions on what the students can and cannot do within the university or college
premise is a prime urge to engage in marijuana smoking in particular. The student code of
conduct is well elaborated but lacks in enforcement. The poor enforcement of regulations and
restrictions coupled with the increased freedom space afforded to the student through the
delinking of family supervision has had a potent impact on the students conduct in private.
Students feel empowered and even daring to indulge in previously inappropriate behaviors since
the subsequent punishment is only meted against them by their conscience, which they can
choose to ignore.
Although the United States is a developed nation, there exist significant urban differences
that are categorized based on the states main economic activities. Urbanity therefore plays a
front-line role in the prevalence rate in marijuana abuse and use through the impact of urban

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exposure. Student originating from largely agriculturally-oriented state into the more urbanite
societies -where drug abuse and the parting lifestyle is a centric feature in da-to-day operationsare most easily recruited into the marijuana subcultures (Levinthal). This could be due to the
incidence of naivety or adventurous spirit that such students encounter a sudden exposure.
However, the initial adoptions are of negatively-related influences. Amidst this subculture will be
the periodic users and the one-time only users.
An economic factor such as the change in prices on alternatives is also a factor for the
increased abuse of marijuana and other drugs within the student population in universities and
colleges (McElrath and Yvonne). Most students rely on family stipends and loans to get through
college education. Changes in taxation and policy regulations on industries such as alcohol and
tobacco have the impact of increasing the cost of these items. If the incidence of this tax increase
cannot be sheltered by user due to inflexible money balances, the students resort to relatively
cheaper indulgences. Why do such students find marijuana a suitable alternative? First, it is cost
effective due to their low street costs. Secondly, marijuana is readily available and at any time
and places where the buyer deems convenient within colleges and universities. This is because in
most cases the dealers are themselves students learning within the institutions.
The passing of national legislation to the effect of raising the minimum limit on alcohol
drinking has also contributed to the upsurge in marijuana use and abuse. Students (both male and
female) have been found to be drinking-even in presence of stiffer legislations-at relatively
earlier and earlier ages. However, due to the strict enforcement at point of sale students in high
schools and who are users of alcohol shifted to marijuana either caused by truancy or meeting
their intoxication desires (Ford and Jasinski). This is the breeding ground for most students
transitioning into colleges and universities with high dependency on marijuana use. At the

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university level, such seasoned marijuana users are able to then induct more and more first time
users into the practice through their social interactions therein contributing to the rising trends in
marijuana use in higher education institutions in the United States.
Effects of marijuana use
The abuse of marijuana within colleges and universities has increased from twenty-three to
thirty percent and similarly seen a shift in the user groups to increasingly younger and minority
groups (Compton, Grant and Colliver). Closely associated with this is the increase in the abuse
of alcohol, cigarettes and illegal substances, such as cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. With these
current upsurges in marijuana abuse there is bound to be high future healthcare complications
amidst a vast population of those who abuse marijuana, therefore, it means that our higher
institutions of learning are developing into institutions of moral decay and breeding grounds for
the current national addiction problems and health care dependency problems.
Secondly, the obvious long-term health implications from increased use and dependency on
marijuana cannot be ignored. It is the primary basis for campaigns against its penetration in
modern societies. Major medical complications include Phyllis and White Owl. However, as
research into medical marijuana is still in progress, there are still not enough known effects of
long-term use and addiction to marijuana. Health complications in the long-run are however
indicators of the persistent use of marijuana.
Thirdly, the financial implications of marijuana dependency and addiction to the user and in
treatment of health related complications should be a deterrent enough for any would be user.
The price of marijuana blunt varies significantly depending on the supplier and region where the
peddling is being done. On average, it costs around $2.30- $2.82, which can better be diverted to

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other meaningful, constructive expenses such as reading materials or business venturing (Castle,
Murray and D'Souza). Furthermore, due to the multiple uses with cigarette and alcohol the
damning possibility of shifting to higher hard core drugs such as cocaine, the cost implications
for marijuana usage can potentially be crippling.
Fourthly, marijuana use and presence within the university and college corridors has led to
emergence of an attractive alternative source of income within tertiary institutions. Why then do
students deal in the distribution and sale of drugs including marijuana? Due to the costly nature
of college and university education in America, students who merit to join such institutions yet
do not not have the financial capability to ably sustain themselves beyond meeting their tuition
and accomodation expenses usually resort to illegal means of raisning extra cash. Drug dealing is
perhaps an ironic way to fulfilling this concern but is the most inconspicious way present.
Closely associated to the above factor is the impact on individual lifestyles. The culture
of drug abuse is often nurtured from sustained usage of soft drugs like marijuana (Mohler-Kuo,
Lee and Wechsler). This culture is particularly predominant within the rich middle class and
upper classes that indulge for recreational purposes and are willing to pay substantial premiums
for their choice drug. Students who come from such classes have the financial muscle and
societal induction that makes it easy to take to marijuana abuses themselves since their
attitudes towards getting high. In essence therefore, marijuana abuse leads to a vicious cycle of
drug dependency amongst addicts that does not only affect the users alone but also creates a
comfort environment-at home-that unwittingly induces more friends and family members into
the vice.

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Marijuana use has led to emergence of religious movements and cults within both tertiary
institutions and in the larger society which the use has furthered marijuana abuse. Although this
is an emotive issue that requires further legal founding, some religious dominions like the
Rastafarians have found root in universities and through their worship which involves smoking
of marijuana most students who find this form of worship simple and divine (perhaps due to the
euphoric principles that creates hallucinations) or merely cool have taken into smoking it
(Gledhill-Hoyt , Lee and Strote). Culturally, American students are also being transformed.
Keeping of dreadlocks and adorning of Rastafarian memorabilia is becoming more widespread.
The question, therefore, is whether the state has powers to limit ones excision of his
fundamental right of worship and association if in so doing it constitutes a violation of antinarcotics law?
The diminished conscience state when using marijuana can expose the user to unsafe sexual
practices, suicide tendencies and/or cause harm to others around the user (assuming the case of a
student driver who is under the influence of marijuana). Marijuana is a psychotic drug that
affects ones perception of reality. This state reflects a diminished state of rational in which an
individuals capability to make informed decisions is greatly minimized. At college parties and
clubbing scenes marijuana use places the user(s) in situations likely to lead to unsafe sex or
actions that generally endanger their lives as well as that of others.
Finally, marijuana use and abuse wastes valuable reading time which should be spent in
enhancing individual knowledge, skills and creativity for the benefit of both him and society.
Academic performance is likely to be inhibited and in cases where the administration catches
wind and proof of such abuses in violation of institutional code of conduct, students often face
termination of study within such institutions. Addicts of marijuana are often unable to function

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well within society; they cannot find stable jobs therefore often living impoverished lives as well
as deteriorating health. On a national scale, they bleed the society of resources (that could have
been directed elsewhere for economic development activities) through the provision of welfare
scheme for homeless and jobless citizens.
The potential clinical benefits for few cancerous patients cannot overly the protection of
public welfare from the social vile of drug abuse. The burden of addiction to marijuana as
discussed above display a major potential for harm than good. Its impact on productivity and
education cannot simply be forfeited for leisure preferences. Although a drug free world is an
utopist ambition. There should be sound mechanisms to help protect society against the abuse of
marijuana in universities and colleges.
Societys elite must take active step to prevent the spread of marijuana (as with any other
illegal drugs) through a refrain from using it and advising others against it as well. The educated
have a front role in fighting the war on drugs equally as much as government does since it is
through their close proximity to users who are families, friends and acquaintances. It is
incumbent upon them to offer the first line of defense against drug penetration within their
communities by being its moral conscience, watch dog and whistle blower for law agencies to
prosecute those peddling drugs. Intervention efforts must be geared towards altering the
individuals decision on buying of marijuana.

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Works Cited
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University Press, 2011. Print.
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Compton, W. M., et al. "Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States: 1991-1992
and 2001-2002." JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 291(17)
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Ford, J. A. and J. L. Jasinski. "Sexual Orientation and Substance Use among College Students."
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Gledhill-Hoyt , J., et al. "Increased Use of Marijuana and Other Illicit Drugs at US Colleges in
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Parfrey, P. S. "Factors Associated with Undergraduate Marijuana Use in Cork University."
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The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention.
"Marijuana Use Among Students at Institutions of Higher Education." 16 Aug. 2008. Web. 5 May 2012.

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TheFreeDictionary. Drug Abuse. n.d. Web. 5 May 2012.
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